In 1994 Cliff Wall (1926-2011) published Remembering our Heritage and Robert Guenther (1938-2002) published Passionate Possessions of Faith. Both authors had, for many years, researched the lives of their Russian Mennonite immigrant ancestors who, between 1874 and 1880, settled in Brothersfield Township near Parker, South Dakota.
In 1999 I published a website (dakotadirksens.com) with which to contact other descendants of the Brothersfield settlers. Cliff Wall, the California Mennonite Historical Society and Kathy Sperling were foremost among those who contributed to the gathering of data about the Brothersfield Families during 1874 to 1900.
In 2012 the website was closed and the entire Brothersfield genealogy moved to the Brothersfield Tree on Ancestry.com.
In 2016 dakotadirksens.com is re-opened to honor links still found on the internet.
Duerksen and Dirksen families with ancestors from Kansas or the Dakotas are commonly found to be descendants of Johann Cornelius and Katherine Dircksen who lived in Tragheimerweide until 1819 when they emigrated to Molotschna where they and fifteen other families settled Alexanderthal (1820-1874 map - 1917 map). Sons Johann and Heinrich stayed on the family farm, #11.
Johann's five sons came to Kansas. The oldest came first, 1874, to Section 11 Meridian Township Marion County. Heinrich's four youngest children came to Dakota Territory's Brothersfield Township SD, in 1876. One, Abraham, may have built this frame house before he was killed by lightning in 1886.
Johann's grandson John Funk Duerksen lived his first 24 years in Alexanderthal. In 1928 he wrote the Duerksen Family history preserved in the Marcellus Duerksen Folder at Fresno's Hiebert Library (1957 translation). In 1953 Alvin Gaede used the 1928 document to publish a widely distributed Duerksen History Pamphlet.
In 1995 Alan Peters published an article about the 1835 Russian Census. It explains how there could not have been a "Johann Johann Duerksen" living between 1740 and 1850. Page six explains how the fictional man's life events were in fact those of Johann Cornelius and Cornelius David Duerksen. Remple's Mennonite Migrations shows that both men obtained Prussian passports in 1819. Other circumstances in their lives suggests that Cornelius' father David was Johann's brother, both sons of Dragass Prussia's Cornelius Dircksen (born in 1736). A future DNA link may confirm or deny the theory. Until then Johann and David Dircksen are shown as brothers in the Brothersfield Tree on ancestry.com.
Cornelius lived so long (95 years) they called him "Alte" Cornelius. He died when John Funk Duerksen was 20 years old and still in Alexanderthal. Forty-five years later John may have unknowingly merged his memory of family descriptions into a fictional Johann Duerksen, later propagated in Gaede's 1953 pamphlet which in turn caused many to believe the fictional progenitor had been born in 1750 and died in 1840. John Funk Duerksen's original German description says he lived, "Ungefaehr Zwischen" (approximately during) the years 1750-1840.
If your family line includes Dirksens from the Dakotas or Duerksens from Kansas, my Brothersfield website may be of interest. Here are the oldest recorded Duerksen and Dirksen ancestors as they are recorded in the California Mennonite Historical Society's GRANDMA data and in my ancestry.com Brothersfield Tree. - Mike Dirksen
|Dakota Dirksens - Kansas Duerksens||GRANDMA page||Ancestry.com page|
|Their Progenitor||Kornelius Duerksen||Cornelius Dircksen|
|Progenitor's first son, born 1761||David Duerksen||David Cornelius Dircksen|
|Progenitor's second son, born 1766||Johann Kornelius Duerksen||Johann Cornelius Dircksen|
|Johann Kornelius' first son, born 1801||Johann Johann Duerksen||Johann (Oel Ohm) Dircksen|
|Johann Kornelius' second son, born 1809||Heinrich Johann Duerksen #14647||Heinrich Johann Dircksen|
|Heinrich Johann's wife, born 1811(13?)||Catarina Adrian||Catarina Adrian|